How hangovers really impair your brain

Study in an Irish pub reveals adults have worse memory, slower reaction times and are less alert if they were drunk the day before.

Until now, studies on hangovers have been restricted to just -fuelled students who drink regularly. 

But researchers wanted to examine how drinking the night before affects the mental capacity of the general population.

So, in the name of science, dozens of participants getting drunk in a pub in the afternoon were asked to complete brain tests the next day.

Researchers at the University of Ulster conducted the 'naturalistic' study in a pub in a town in Ireland that they did not name.

They did, however, reveal it had a population of 6,839 in the 2011 Census – the same amount of people recorded living in Buncrana, County Donegal.

The academics hung around in the unidentified pub from the time it opened – 10.30am – until 3pm to recruit 43 people to take part.

Anyone generous enough to offer their services had to volunteer for the day because there was no financial incentive for them to take part.

Before taking part in the study participants were screened in an office above the pub and disqualified if they had a head injury, were taking medication, were pregnant or had in the past been treated for drug or alcohol addiction.

HOW CAN YOU BEAT A HANGOVER NATURALLY?

A team of experts at Abakus Foods have told how ginger caaspin help prevent nausea, while a hot bath can give your lymphatic system a boost. 

1. Fructose

'This can help speed up alcohol metabolism, meaning that extra glass could pass through your body faster and you can feel 'back to normal' sooner. Try natural & fruity snacks to help this process. For example the jujube fruit is a great source of natural fructose and also contains potassium which can help rehydration.'

2. Greasy food

'This has long been rumoured to help with alcohol resistance. However, the one time you can legitimately eat greasy pizza and fries is before you start drinking, and the extra oil on the intestines can help slow the alcohol absorption. It's generally a good idea to eat well and not drink on empty stomach.'

3. Ginger

'This can help with an upset stomach, such as vomiting and nausea. Simply make yourself a ginger tea with a slice of fresh ginger in boiled water, or chew on some ginger sweets.'

4. Sweat

'Do this by working out or taking a hot bath, and thereby help your lymphatic system get rid of the toxins in your body. Beware of the sauna though as the excessive sweating could make you even more dehydrated and lower your blood sugar.'

5. Sleep

'This is still one of the best ways for human recovery of any kind. While you sleep, your organs get a chance to rest and restore. In case of a hangover, your liver is working hard to break down the alcohol and sleep allows its natural healing.'

On average the group consumed 15.4 units of alcohol of their own accord during the day of drinking – more than Britons are advised to have on a weekly basis.

This added up to around five large glasses of wine or six-and-a-half pints of lager each.

All volunteers were then asked to complete various brain tests the next day while hungover. 

The same people then repeated those tests when they were sober within the next 10 days.

Results showed they recalled significantly fewer words in one of the tests when they were hungover, compared to when they were more alert.

They also had slower reaction times and made significantly more errors in the other tests, according to the results in the journal Addictive Behavior Reports.

Writing in the journal, the researchers led by graduate student Lydia Devenney said: 'The slower response times observed during a hangover… are in line with previous findings in student samples.

'Taken together, the effects on cognitive performance during the hangover state of the current adult working sample were more or less comparable to those observed in student samples.

'Thus, the impairing effects of alcohol hangover on mood and cognition seen in student samples are equally present in older non-student samples.'

Participants also were significantly less alert and had lower feelings of tranquillity when they completed the mood test on their hangover day.

Around half of the participants were women and the average age was 31.4 years old. The youngest was just 19 and the oldest was 60.

Three volunteers were excluded because they had taken drugs on the day they drank – two had used cannabis while another used ecstasy.

Two other participants were cut out of the study for smoking cannabis on the control day, when they were supposed to be in a healthy mental state.

 

Compiled by Olalekan Adeleye

MailOnline

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